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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ancient woodland protection- the Woodland Trust

I've just received an email from the Woodland Trust who are very concerned about proposed changes to planning laws and the effect it will almost certainly have on Ancient Woodland. It would follow that all woodland will be more vulnerable to over development with little or no protection. I will be sending an email in support of their campaign.

I've also added some photos taken in a local wood being managed for conservation. Probably a very old wood.

The heading below should give a link to their web site.

Ancient woodland protection- the Woodland Trust

National Planning Policy Framework Consultation

25+ policy statements into one

Changes to the planning system are threatening what little protection from development is in place for ancient woodland.
Ancient woodland is land continuously woods since 1600 and is our richest habitat for biodiversity, yet covers a mere 2% of England's landscape. Once lost it cannot be recreated - it is irreplaceable. Protecting what we have left is vital and this will in turn deliver the ‘ecosystem services’ that trees and woodland provide such as flood alleviation, aiding climate change mitigation and adaptation, tackling wildlife loss and improving
Paragraph 10, in Planning Policy Statement 9 Biodiversity and Geological Conservation, explicitly recognises ‘ancient woodland is a valuable biodiversity resource both for its diversity of species and for its longevity as woodland. Once lost it cannot be recreated. Aged or ‘veteran’ trees found outside ancient woodland are also particularly valuable for biodiversity and their loss should be avoided’.

In stressing that Local Planning Authorities ‘should not grant planning permission for any development that would result in its loss or deterioration' it has been instrumental in protecting ancient woods and trees since its publication in 2005.

The existing caveat however – ‘unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location outweigh the loss of the woodland habitat’ - has left, and continues to leave, ancient woodland open to development threats.

Without the proposed NPPF retaining and strengthening the essence of this policy and removing this specific caveat, outright protection for this precious asset will never be achieved and what little remains of our heritage lost forever.

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